I think that it’s become increasingly obvious that FIRE in its many forms is not quite for me. So this is the death of FIRE – extinguishing the flames of hope from my wallet and my heart.
As much as there’s been an explosion of interest in what is called FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early), it remains something that is inherently undesirable in itself and unless backed by a rigorous framework of activities, interests and action. And you can’t spell framework without “work”.
More to the point, I’ve been “between projects” for last few weeks. On the face of it, with the record haul of wealth pthat we’ve accumulated and our current and predicted outgoings we are financially independent. That’s a great relief. It also meant that I was in the unusual position of not needing to be motivated by money. So, any endeavours in the future need not have money as a deciding factor.
Oh, we FIers are so superior to the money driven wage slaves – we’ve weaned ourselves off the addiction to monetary renumeration and have elevated ourselves above the rabble of the rat race. But does it make you happy? I am not the only one thinking this as well.
But back to the point – being “between projects” very much felt like I was going to be permanently unemployed and whilst my CV doesn’t look too bad and I have experience; where I live and my family commitments limit my options and my experience (un)fairly pigeonholes me into a career that is in its death throes. The company I was contracting with since March told me to not expect any work until January and I felt that I would be out of work permanently – for good.
Retrain? With my Brain?
I considered doing a masters in a field relevant to what I had done in the past and with prospects for the future. Part time of course to sit along side looking after the kids and being idle. Would my brain be able to learn again? Am I passed it? I’ll never know because I didn’t sign up.
The Last Hope
Then last week, at a team meeting that I joined, the excited news was that the project that was postponed from July until 2021 was to go ahead forthwith. It came as a bit of a shock to me because I was not expecting to get anymore work – but as of next week I’ll be working full time again. The work (which I don’t go into too much detail about) is a step forward for me experience wise – a good foundation for the future.
What it means is 6 months of steady work and that’ll mean we move from being just about FI to being what I would call “work optional”. If I get no more work next summer – no worries. But it won’t be borderline as it is now. I’ll probably try opting for 30-40 hours a week and it’s mostly WFH – which is ace! That’s one thing that I really wanted, as commuting is rubbish (makes you fat, unhealthy and poor) and I like it at home.
I think that the prospect of never earning money ever again is a stupid idea and I’ve always said so. But, it’s clear to me that I would not want to be unintentionally retired – or as it’s known “redundant”. Redundant and redundancy is a terrible term, meaning that you are just not useful at all. And as someone who gets a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine viewing, every body wants to be a really useful engine. Otherwise, you are just a waste of space.
I was terrified of never being of use ever again. That’s the truth – terrified that I could not do anything useful. I’d probably need to develop myself, change, grow, mature… but it’s sad to think that around 20 years ago I started down a path of being an engineer and after all that, my skills, training and experience would be worthless.
Has the FIRE gone out?
My view of Financial Independence is that by having money you can give yourself some level of freedom from having to chase after every penny just to get by. We have that now in our lives. But with independence comes personal responsibility – you have to be accountable for your own time and actions. In my time off, I didn’t really do that much if I’m honest. Some DIY, some reading and exercise. But I’ve chosen the path of a family man and that means that all the Independence in the world means that you are only free between nine and three – because when you have to pick the kids up, cook dinner, hoover, tidy-up, do the big shop, load a wash, read a book and try to get round to do that thing that you’ll get to at some point – freedom is the freedom to choose how you spend your life and with whom.
Thanks for reading this far, I’ll keep posting and maybe I’ll express myself better in those posts. I don’t know if I could change how I live my life now that we are “enough and then some” and I’m very happy overall with how things have turned out.
This is not a goodbye to FIRE in totality. But it is very much an option that I am not willing to take right now. I have it as an option for when I want to or need to in the future but I’ll be glad to get back to work and as Finumus puts it, have “new energy and meaning”. Then again, show me someone who has stopped all work altogether and I’ll show you someone who’s pulling in more from their side hustles than they know what to do with.